Sullivan & Cromwell Reviews and Analyzes 2016 U.S. Shareholder Activism

Shareholder activism remains a major force in corporate decision-making in 2016 but is increasingly operating in an environment of robust, multi-faceted shareholder engagement, particularly at large companies. The time and effort that companies and institutional investors have spent developing a mutual understanding of eachother’s concerns have narrowed the opportunities for activists at high-profile companies, and the returns of activist funds overall are down in 2016. The total number of activist campaigns has nevertheless remained high, due in large part to newer and often smaller activists targeting small and mid-size companies.

Large institutional investors have long been an important constituency in … Read more

Sullivan & Cromwell Discusses Hacking and Cyber Threats to Director Communications

The growth in cybersecurity threats combined with the increasing demands placed on outside directors create challenges that often go beyond the risks that public companies face from employee and client communications.  If public companies cannot communicate quickly with directors or directors cannot easily share information and discuss options, corporate governance will suffer.  On the other hand, outside directors often have professional responsibilities to multiple organizations and, accordingly, are more likely to rely on electronic communications that are outside of any particular company’s technology resources.

Recent hacking incidents highlight the need for public companies to review their director communication practices to … Read more

Sullivan & Cromwell discusses Delaware Legislation Saying No to “Loser-Pays” Fee-Shifting Bylaws But Yes to Forum-Selection Bylaws for Stock Corporations

On May 12 and June 11, 2015, the Delaware Senate and House of Representatives, respectively, passed a bill (the “Bill”)[1] that would amend Title 8 of the Delaware General Corporation Law (“DGCL”) to prohibit Delaware stock corporations from including in their charters or bylaws so-called “loser-pays” fee-shifting provisions in connection with “internal corporate claims” brought by stockholders. Following the Delaware Supreme Court’s May 2014 decision in ATP Tour, Inc. v. Deutscher Tennis Bund, in which the Court held that “fee-shifting provisions in a non-stock corporation’s bylaws can be valid and enforceable,”[2] it was unclear to some practitioners … Read more

Sullivan & Cromwell Discusses How Companies Should Prepare for Potential Proxy Disclosure Litigation

Plaintiffs’ attorneys have continued to bring, or threaten, litigation against U.S. companies following the filing of their annual proxy statements. These complaints generally allege disclosure deficiencies in connection with the approval of equity compensation plans and/or the advisory shareholder “say-on-pay” vote and, as with merger-related “strike suits,” seek to enjoin the annual meeting. Early cases gained some traction, resulting in settlements yielding additional proxy disclosures and legal fees for the  plaintiffs, though most companies have resisted settling. While some companies have taken the  heightened litigation risk into account in crafting 2013 proxy disclosure, it seems likely that no level of  … Read more

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